My dad and my uncles. Every year at Thanksgiving, we would get a whole pig and slow cook it all day in vinegar BBQ sauce. I would hang around all day waiting for the pig to be done cooking so I could take the first bite.
The first dish that I mastered would be my Chicken Ragu Over Homemade Orecchiette. It's a dish that I still make at least a couple of times a month. It took a while, but I've dialed it in perfectly now. It's my daughter's favorite dish!
Definitely a pork shoulder. Its amazing flavors are so versatile. You can create tons of different hearty dishes from it.
Probably the most important thing that I learned was that you have to be a well-rounded chef. That means being an expert on all aspects of the kitchen. From baking to proteins, from ordering the supplies and investigating every little detail that goes into making your dishes. Never settle for anything less than perfection. I also learned to taste, taste, taste! And to never give up when you fail on executing a good dish. Try it again until it's perfected.